Republicans and Democrats on Wednesday failed to reach a spending agreement after huddling with White House officials, after which both parties said they would keep trying in the coming days.
But there were signs that the deal was still far out of reach. Democrats are pushing for language in the spending bill that would protect Dreamers, to counteract President Trump's plan to rescind the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in March.
Republicans, however, made it clear after the meeting that they want a spending deal first and an immigration deal later.
"It is important that we achieve a two-year agreement that funds our troops and provides for our national security and other critical functions of the Federal government," the White House, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a joint statement. "It also remains important that members of Congress do not hold funding for our troops hostage for immigration policy."
"We’ve been clear about these budget priorities from the beginning and hope that further discussions will lead to an agreement soon," they added.
That position could force Democrats to choose whether to accept the two-year spending deal the GOP is seeking or threaten a government shutdown by blocking it in the Senate.
Democrats said little coming out of the meeting, except that they hope further talks will result in some deal. Democrats also want to ensure that if spending caps rise for defense, they also rise for nondefense items.
“We had a positive and productive meeting and all parties have agreed to continue discussing a path forward to quickly resolve all of the issues ahead of us," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement late Wednesday afternoon.
Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and Marc Short, the White House's top liaison to Congress, were also present at the meeting.